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Cablegate: Tfgg01 Russian Media On Ceasefire and U.S. Interference In

VZCZCXRO9596
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2383/01 2261354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 131354Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9458
INFO RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 3879
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002383

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PBTS PINR PINS PNAT PREL GG RS
SUBJECT: TFGG01 Russian media on ceasefire and U.S. interference in
Georgia

Ref: a) Moscow 2343, b)Moscow 2366

1. (SBU) Summary: The Russian media treated the ceasefire with
Georgia as a Russian victory that sent a message of strength to
Georgia and the West, but noted that the conflict was far from
settled. Broadcast images of shelled homes and weeping victims
underlined the human costs of the conflict. Russian press continued
to hold Washington ultimately responsible for the conflict. Print,
broadcast, and online media exhibited QevidenceQ of direct USG
participation and support for Georgia, including a soldierQs badge
from a joint U.S. - Georgian military training exercise in July.
Broadcast media particularly demonized Georgian president Mikhail
Saakashvili, with QexpertsQ diagnosing his mental instability on the
evening news. End summary.

A Sigh of Relief
-----------------

2. (U) After MedvedevQs August 12 announcement ending hostilities,
there were no calls in the media for Russian troops to push towards
Tbilisi or continue fighting. Although some outlets highlighted the
Russian Qvictory,Q news coverage focused on the aftermath of the
fighting: the human toll, as well as the new geopolitical
consequences. Business daily Vedomosti observed: QThe war between
Georgia and Russia marks the beginning of a totally new period in
the former Soviet territories that will impact global politics....A
Moscow that is ready to use force outside of its borders is a new
phenomenon that its neighbors and leading world powers will have to
deal with.Q Pro-Kremlin Izvestiya echoed a traditional Russian
lament, noting QWeQve entered a new geopolitical era and it has
become clear that Russia does not have reliable allies.Q Pictures
of wounded soldiers, wailing mothers and elderly refugees covered
the pages of the tabloid newspapers and evening news broadcasts,
along with quotes from Putin and others using the word Qgenocide.


Russian media sees U.S. behind Georgian actions
--------------------------------------------- -

3. (SBU) Russian television continued to trumpet QevidenceQ of U.S.
planning and support for Georgian military action in South Ossetia.
On state-owned Rossiya, a correspondent showed a badge he said had
been taken from the body of a killed Georgian soldier. The badge
displayed the U.S. and Georgian flags under the headline QImmediate
Response 08Q and said on its reverse side: QProperty of USA SETAF.
(Note: Immediate Response 08 was a regional joint training exercise
held in July.)

4. (U) Print and broadcast media carried statements by Russian
Ambassador to NATO Rogozin accusing the United States of providing
military assistance. News channels showed Rogozin blasting NATO for
not holding an emergency NATO- Russia council meeting, noting
"Procedural rules didn't preclude NATO Ambassadors from meeting with
the Georgian Foreign Minister....I wanted to ask our American
colleagues, about the degree of US involvement in the preparations
for this bloodshed. We continue to insist that our partners do not
dodge a serious adult political dialogue on this topic."

5. (SBU) Russian media questioned the motives behind WashingtonQs
involvement in the South Ossetian conflict. On the state-owned
Channel One, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin felt a QCold War
mentalityQ on the part of U.S. diplomats was responsible. Izvestiya
ran an op-ed by Sergei Markov, Director of the Political Research
Institute, who accused VPOTUS Cheney and Qneo-consQ of starting the
war to ensure the election of Sen. John McCain. Russian Ambassador
to the UN Vitaliy Churkin was quoted on August 11 by the state wire
service ITAR-TASS as hypothesizing that perhaps Saakashvili
misinterpreted Qsignals that could have been sent from Washington.

Saakashvili = Karadzic/Milosevic?
---------------------------------

6. (SBU) While holding the U.S. responsible on the one hand,
Russian media continued to blast Saakashvili as a war criminal and
madman of the highest order. Rossiya channelQs premier news program
Vesti had an expert from the Serbsky forensic psychiatry institute
(infamous for its role in committing dissidents to psychiatric wards
in the 1970s) examine tapes of Saakashvili for evidence of mental
problems. The expert held that Saakashvili could be mistaken for
Hitler. (A metaphor echoed in an op-ed by Izvestiya as well.) Also,
Vesti interviewed an alleged expert from the University of Maryland
who said that SaakashviliQs eyes had Qthe inclination for whims and
wishes that have to be satisfied at any cost.Q On August 12, the
Vesti website ran an interview with a Polish member of Parliament
who said that QThis man [Saakashvili] in the future..., will
possibly be compared in the West with Karadzic and Milosevic.


MOSCOW 00002383 002 OF 002


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